By Jeb Bladine • President / Publisher • 

Jeb Bladine: Threat of warfare lies in cyberspace

Computer vulnerabilities may be the Achilles heel of an unprepared America.

As Russian forces continue to decimate Ukraine, and world tensions rise, Steven J. Vaughan-Nichols is pondering the possibility of World War III in cyberspace.


Jeb Bladine is president and publisher of the News-Register.

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“I fear the proximate cause won’t be Russian T-90 main battle tanks trying to smash their way into Ukraine’s capital, Kyiv,” he wrote on “It will be the Russian GRU Sandworm hacking group launching a cyberattack that perhaps wrecks the European Union power grid; or knocks out major U.S. internet sites such as Google, Facebook and Microsoft; or stops 4G and 5G cellular services in their tracks.”

These aren’t faint warnings from afar, as President Joe Biden made clear on Monday: “The magnitude of Russia’s cyber capacity is fairly consequential … And it’s coming.”

Federal officials are acknowledging “increased levels of scanning websites and hunting for vulnerabilities among U.S. companies.” They worry that cyber-warfare could target our banks, electrical grids, water treatment plants, hospitals and satellite communications, to name a few.

Here on the ground in small-town America, I can attest to a significant recent increase in phishing, with growing sophistication. Phishing: “an illegal form of digital fraud where criminals disguise their email or website as a trustworthy entity in an attempt to trick users into submitting personally identifiable information (i.e. passwords, credit card numbers, etc.).”

Unwary computer users can open doors to computer network databases, inviting tactics ranging from freeze-and-blackmail to total destruction. Major companies, long-warned of the risks, have all manner of unpatched computer network vulnerabilities.

Companies large and small are being urged to establish multi-factor authentication procedures, encrypting, and off-site data backups. We’re told to “assume there will be disruptive activity,” and to report any cyber incidents to CISA or a local FBI office.

In case you’ve never heard of CISA, you have plenty of company. The federal Cybersecurity & Infrastructure Security Agency in the Department of Homeland Security provides extensive free services to help Americans protect their data and computer systems. They do malware analysis, cyber-resilience reviews, evaluation tools, training and more, and it’s there for the asking through information at

This week, federal Social Security Administration phones were answered with this recorded message: “We are experiencing service issues, including poor call quality, long delays and dropped calls.” Let’s hope next week’s message isn’t changed to, “If you’re inquiring about missing Social Security payments, please call back some time this summer.”

Jeb Bladine can be reached at or 503-687-1223.


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